Court has finally committed jailed legislators Mr Allan Ssewanyana of Makindye West and Muhammad Ssegirinya of Kawempe North to High Court for trial where the duos are accused of murder, aiding and abetting terrorism.
While appearing before Masaka Grade One Magistrate court presided by Christine Nantegge, State Prosecutor Richard Birivumbuka said they deemed it fit to issue a production warrant for the accused persons after getting the legislators’ co- accused person Wilson Ssenyonga alias Nyonga Tony who they claim has been playing hide and seek with the authorities at Kitalya Prison.
This has been revealed today Monday 28th/03/2022 before Masaka Grade One Magistrate court.
According to Mr Birivumbuka , the State had made amendments in the charge sheet by adding Ssenyonga, who is a key suspect in the murder of Joseph Bwanika in August 2021 in Lwengo District.
“Court had allocated the case on April 6, 2022 for further mention of the case, but as we had earlier told court that investigations in this case were complete and committal exercise was only delayed by the presence of Ssenyonga another accused person in this case. Since we secured his attendance, we deemed it necessary to appear today because waiting until April 6 would be causing unnecessary and unwarranted delays to the legislators’ case,” he said.
Mr Birivumbuka added that the committal papers were also ready and asked court to proceed with the process of committing the trio to the High Court for trial.
Consequently, the presiding magistrate read out the summary of the offense to the accused persons – with the two MPs following the proceedings via zoom from Kigo Prison while Ssenyonga was physically present in court.
According to the court, Ssewanyana, Ssegirinya, Ssenyonga and others during the night of August 2, 2021 at Kisekka B Village in Lwengo District with malice aforethought, unlawfully killed Joseph Bwanika.
Court also heard that Ssenyonga who is a key suspect in the case is a porter and a resident of Kamazzi Village, Katoma Ward, Malongo Sub County in Lwengo District.
According to records before the court indicate that the deceased (Bwanika) was found in the coffee plantation, partially buried with the head covered and the lower part outside. The deceased was murdered on his way back home from work.
Reading from the committal papers, Magistrate Nantegge said Ssenyonga on arrest confessed that he and his accomplices were recruited by Ssewanyana and Ssegirinya to murder Bwanika, and that they held meetings at Happy Boys Club in Ndeeba near Kabaka’s lake in Kampala City from where plans were drawn to kill people in Masaka sub region, as a way of sending a message to the government that they (National Unity Platform – NUP) were robbed of their 2021 general election victory.
Prosecution also states that a charge and caution statement and an extra judicial statement were recorded from Ssenyonga and this would be used as evidence during the trial.
Court also heard that police visited the crime scene where the sketch map was drawn and photographs taken and police also retrieved the accused persons’ s mobile telephone call data print outs which place the accused persons at Happy Boys where the meetings reportedly took place.
“The Central Circuit Television (CCTV) footage was retrieved and clearly shows the accused persons participated in the commission of the offense, and this will also be used as evidence at the trial,” the State further stated.
The defense team led by Mr Erias Lukwago, however, said they had been ambushed by the State and Ms Shamim Malende, who is another defense lawyer, said that they need Ssenyonga to be examined to ensure that he is in sound mental state.
The two MPs, who have been on remand since September 20, 2021 were first accused of four counts of murder and one of attempted murder though two more counts of aiding and abetting terrorism were later added.
The duo were later granted bail, but re-arrested as they left the prison premises, and slapped with fresh charges and the case has since been adjourned several times on the State’s request for more time.